Clary berates 'awful' Connolly for laughing at his own jokes

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Julian Clary's acid tongue nearly ended his career a few years back, when he cracked an obscene joke about Norman Lamont at the British Comedy Awards, which were being broadcast live on ITV.

Julian Clary's acid tongue nearly ended his career a few years back, when he cracked an obscene joke about Norman Lamont at the British Comedy Awards, which were being broadcast live on ITV.

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Now it's about to land him in trouble all over again, after Clary, laid into Billy Connolly - a fellow "big beast" of British comedy - in front of a West End theatre audience.

On Tuesday night, Foyles bookshop hosted a Q&A event for Clary at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London, to launch his new autobiography, A Young Man's Passage.

Asked for his views on fellow performers, Clary said: "I don't watch any stand-up. I especially can't stand Billy Connolly. He's awful. Imagine laughing at your own jokes all the time."

Apropos of Connolly's recent controversial joke about Ken Bigley, Clary added: "It wasn't funny, but I expect when he said it, no one said: 'That's sick, you're finished.' He probably found that out later."

Connolly wouldn't discuss the matter yesterday. Clary, meanwhile, announced plans for a summer tour. "I'm in a show called Dance Your Socks Off, and we are going to all sorts of dreary regional places. I'm very happy to be doing it. For the appropriate fee."

Emergency fund for Rosie raises £27

Rosie Millard's old chums at the BBC have leapt into action to ease her financial woes.

Staff at BBC Radio Leeds have launched a Save Rosie Millard Campaign, after their former arts correspondent wrote a newspaper column saying she'd run up £40,000 in credit card debts.

"We broadcast to some of the most deprived areas of the UK, but hope listeners will find it in their hearts to dig deep," says Martin Kelner, who is running the appeal on his late-night show.

"So far, we've raised £27, which should cover one third of the cost of one of Rosie's haircuts, or a black cab home to one of her Georgian mansions."

For her part, Millard, left, tells me she's "touched and moved".

"I never realised I had such a fan base. I could spend the £27 on food for my children, who are in danger of starving, but I won £55 on the Grand National, so I'll probably stick it on a horse."

Eco-socialite Julia plans first rooftop windmill in Chelsea

The novelist Julia Stephenson, who is standing for the Green Party in her native Kensington and Chelsea, may be about to upset some of her well-heeled neighbours.

In a bid to practise what she preaches, the chirpy eco-socialite, right, is installing an urban windmill on the roof of her home.

"I am greening up my flat, top to bottom," she tells me. "It's going to be the first domestic wind farm in K&C, and will hopefully provide most of my electricity. It's 5 ft tall and will go on the roof; I might not be too popular with the neighbours."

In another local bombshell, Stephenson - who last time polled 1,158 votes - is proposing to ban "Chelsea Tractors".

By way of a personal sacrifice, she's trading in her Mazda MX5 for an electric car.

Now it's 'Old Big 'Ead: the musical'

Six months after his untimely death, brace yourself for Brian Clough: the musical. In June, the Nottingham Playhouse will premiere a new show in which "Old Big 'Ead" returns to Earth to revive the fortunes of a local theatre company.

Apparently, the former Forest manager was a mustard-keen Frank Sinatra fan, so the score will feature many of his best-known tracks. It stars Colin Tarrant, best known as Inspector Monroe in The Bill.

"Colin does a mean Cloughie impression," says the theatre. "To give you a flavour of the show, it'll open with a shower scene set in heaven, featuring Brian Clough, Lord Byron and DH Lawrence." The mind boggles!

'Farewell, Ozzy' poetry prize

On Sunday, MTV will be screening the final ever episode of The Osbournes. Not only will this be hailed as a landmark TV event, it should also go down in literary history.

Benjamin Zephaniah - who, like Ozzy Osbourne, hails from deepest Birmingham - has written a commemorative poem, "After the Osbournes".

The five-stanza elegy begins: "Is there life after the Osbournes / Can we survive this or not? /If we lose our great role models / What the fuck else have we got? / Is there life after the Osbournes / Can we all survive this shock? / For we bow before the Osbournes / They're the first family of rock."

Much as Pandora admires Mr Zephaniah, I wonder if readers can do better. There's a bottle of Dom Perignon 1996 for the author of the most poignant farewell hymn. Entries, via e-mail or post, must reach me by next Friday.